There are many advantages of living in the modern day, such as the advent of computers, mobile phones, high efficiency transportation, and, of course, hospitality and food services. It is very difficult to imagine living without these conveniences, just ask your teenage child to put snapchat down for 3 minutes and you will see life come to a halt! So, the question arises; are we better off in modern day than in past centuries? Could the conveniences of modern day be hindering our health and can cause harm like knee osteoarthritis? One might argue that living in the pre-industrial era may have suited us better in terms of overall health and function.

Researchers are attributing the rise in knee osteoarthritis (OA) to the decline in physical activity, as one author put it, an epidemic in the post-industrial era. A study, appearing in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, compared the knee joints of 2,756 cadavers from 3 different eras: those who lived between 6,000 and 300 BC (prehistoric era) 1800s to the early 1900s (early industrial), and those from the late 1900s to the early 2000s (post-industrial).


knee osteoarthritis

Knee Osteoarthritis

The researchers controlled for factors such as BMI (body mass index) and age (prehistoric BMI could not be estimated) and found that the rate of knee OA was actually two times higher for the post-industrial group when compared to the early industrial group. They concluded that the increased rate of knee OA was not due to people living longer or, more recently, people having higher BMIs, but rather due to environmental changes, “namely the reduced levels of physical activity associated with the post-industrial era”.

There is good news however; knee OA is a largely preventable condition. So, get out of the chair, shut down the computer, and forget snapchat for a few minutes and get walking! If, however, your knees are causing you discomfort, call us at John Goetze Physical Therapy (904) 280-2001 . We’ll help get back to pain-free motion again!